Category Archives: Events

February weather

Only one hearty bicycler made it to the library during today’s snow storm but the orange key tours of the campus seem to be filled. You might be better off trying the virtual tour from the warmth of your home:

The Betsey Stockton Garden behind the library

Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century


Coming up on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, is the third Gillett G. Griffin Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr. Nazera Wright titled “Black Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century.” The lecture will begin at 4:30 in McCormick Hall 101, followed by a reception in the McCormick lobby. Copies of Dr. Wright’s book will be available for purchase during the reception thanks to our friends at Labyrinth Books. This event is free and open to the public.


Print Catalogues and Databases: Past, Present, and Future

The Fourth Annual APS (Association of Print Scholars) Distinguished Scholar Lecture will be held today, January 25, 2019, at the City University of New York. Titled “Print Catalogues and Databases: Past, Present, and Future,” Antony Griffiths, FBA, is expected to speak to a standing-room audience of students, curators, historians, collectors, conservators, and dealers.

Griffiths will share his long-term work on the British Museum’s online print catalogue and the implications of this work for other institutions and future scholarship on the history of prints. As many collection databases are being merged with a broad range of other mediums in online databases, the loss of image specific information and art historical data is a serious concern to us all.

Antony Griffiths is the Former Keeper of the Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, where he served from 1991 to 2011. He was also Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Oxford for the 2014/2015 academic year, where he delivered a series of lectures in conjunction with his book, The Print Before Photography: An Introduction to European Printmaking 1550–1820.

Please note that the lecture will be recorded and is to be made available online for APS members and the general public.

The Association of Print Scholars (APS) is a non-profit organization that encourages innovative and interdisciplinary methodological approaches to the history of printmaking. By maintaining an active website, sponsoring working groups, and hosting periodic symposia and lectures, APS facilitates dialogue and community among its members and promotes the dissemination of their ideas and scholarship. APS supports research grants and sponsors projects in the digital humanities that advance knowledge of printmaking. Membership is open to anyone whose research focuses on printmaking across all geographic regions and chronological periods.

Typographics 2019

The website for the fourth annual New York City Typographics festival is now online at The team organizing this year’s event includes Cara Di Edwardo, Alexander Tochilovsky, Ellen Lupton, Barbara Glauber, and many others.

The site notes: “The 11-day festival is a forum for presentations about graphic design, web design, publication design, book design, type design, packaging, branding, corporate identity, advertising, motion graphics, and more. Importantly, Typographics focuses on new frontiers in digital typography.”

From June 10 to 20, 2019, there will be workshops, tours, speakers, and of particular interest, a book fair. Entrance to the fair on Saturday June 15 is limited to those registered for the conference but on Sunday June 16 the event will be free and open to the public. This year’s location will be the East Village gallery space at 41 Cooper Square, just across the street from the Cooper Union Great Hall where the main conference will be taking place. .

The organizers promise “a wide diversity of material available relating to typography, lettering, design, etc, with everything from rare antiquarian type specimens to contemporary titles on modern graphic design.” A full listing of participating booksellers will be posted soon. For updates and announcements, join the Typographics mailing list or follow @TypographicsNYC on Twitter.

Water Yam

It isn’t often that our artists’ books get a performance, but that is the case with the new acquisition of George Brecht’s Water Yam (Fluxus no. C, 1963). At 4:30 on Friday, November 16, 2018, music major Tim Ruszala will present a Junior Paper recital about Fluxus, a radical avant-garde interdisciplinary art movement of the early 1960s.

He writes, “A large part of their corpus consisted of written instructions or short phrases, intended for performance / reflection, and the pieces were often framed in musical terms or had to do with questioning art production and conventions of consumption.” Tim will hold a recital in Theatre Intime of a selection of interesting pieces that he found in this process, including Brecht’s Water Yam.

When the BBC described Water Yam, they noted:

In a series of classes given at the New School for Social Research between 1956 and 1960, John Cage influenced a generation of artists who would develop the performance script into an art form, and lay the ground for Happenings and Fluxus. Having earlier embraced chance compositional procedures as a means of effacing his own likes and dislikes (and, as he put it, ” imitating nature in her manner of operation”), Cage encouraged students who already were using chance in their work – such as George Brecht and Jackson Mac Low – and prompted others – such as Allan Karpow, Dick Higgins and Al Hanson – to do so. And his classroom assignments led to instructions for events and performances that yielded some of the most important intermedia activity of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Out of the Cage class came the kind of event cards for which Fluxus would become well-known, an evocative form whose power is best appreciated in the 1959-66 works of George Brecht published by the movement’s impresario George Maciunas in a box called Water Yam. While most Fluxus event cards are performance scripts, Water Yam also includes instructions for the creation of objects or tableaux–obscure directions whose realization left almost everything to the realizer. In such works as Six Exhibits (“ceiling, first wall, second wall, third wall, fourth wall, floor”) and Egg (“at least one egg”), Brecht applied to objects and physical situations the freedom of execution and openness to serendipity that is the hallmark of a Fluxus performance.

Water Yam, arranged by George Brecht ([New York]: Fluxus, [1963?]). 1 cardboard box with 76 cards. Fluxus ; no. C. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

The First Photography Book

On the occasion of the exhibition Blue Prints: the Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins (1799-1871), The New York Public Library invited distinguished scholars in the fields of photography, conservation, natural history, and rare books to discuss her photography and its resonance. During today’s symposium panelists and speakers discussed the broader context in which she created her momentous production, as well as characteristics unique to Atkins’s pioneering work.

Participants included Joshua Chuang, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Associate Director for Art, Prints and Photographs, and The Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography, NYPL; Rose Teanby, Independent historian, Associate of the Royal Photographic Society; Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Steffen Siegel, Professor, Folkwang University of Arts, Essen; Jessica McDonald, Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Center; Mary Oey, Head of Conservation and Collections Care, NYPL; Jessica Keister, Associate Conservator for Photographs, NYPL; Kenneth Karol, Curator, Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics, New York Botanical Garden; Normand Trudel, Librarian for Rare Books, University of Montreal; Alice Lemaire, Conservator, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris; Nancy Barr, Curator of Photographs, Detroit Institute of Arts; and Julia Van Haaften, founding Curator, Photography Collection, NYPL. Few institutions hold either parts or a complete set of Photographs of British Algae and so, we are all grateful that NYPL has digitized their copy.

Speakers all agreed that Anna Atkins’ role in the narrative of early photography has been acknowledged only within the last 40 years. Since the publication of Larry J. Schaaf’s Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins, [Marquand Oversize TR688 .S32q] scholars have built on this groundbreaking research and fortified the larger context of her work.

Although now famous for being the first book produced with photographic illustrations, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions has been viewed as an artwork, a scientific document, a rare book, and more.

We now call Atkins the first female photographer. Although women were not allowed to join The Royal Society of London, Atkins contributed three volumes to the Society containing 433 photographic images in 1843, preceding William Henry Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature, published in 1844.

One of many interesting observations made today was the presences of blue dyed paper as a support for photographs throughout the 19th century, including work by Julia Margaret Cameron [left]. Ovenden noted the trouble with impurities in papers that could be easily concealed under the blue coloring.





Atkins’ photographic images were created as an accompaniment to William Henry Harvey’s 1841 guide entitled British Algae [Recap 8753.436], which had no illustrations. The two volumes are meant to be read side–by-side, Atkins’ images faithfully corresponding with Harvey’s survey.

A Nincompoop and Other Prints


Princeton University class “Caricature and Modernity: 1776-1914” (ART 453/ECS 453) visited the Graphic Arts Collection this week to view prints and watercolors by James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and other British caricaturists.

With frequent bursts of laughter, the class looked primarily at the collection of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895, who donated several thousand prints, drawings, and illustrated books to the Princeton University Library.

“Caricature, based on the distortion of the human face for comic effect, challenged the ideally beautiful,” reads the class description, “and the academic art training that developed in Western Europe after the Renaissance. This course will examine the explosion of caricatural prints and comic illustrated books in France, Great Britain, and the United States from the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 to World War I. Topics will include the political role of satire in the newly defined public sphere; the influence of physiognomy and racial theories on caricatural depictions; the invention of the comic strip; and the origins of Dada and Cubism in comic illustration.”

The invention of laughing gas is celebrated below:

Reports were prepared on Gillray’s Tom Paine’s Nightly Pest (1792); King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver (1803); Matrimonial Harmonics (1805); and Advantages of Wearing Muslin Dresses! (1818). In addition, they studied Rowlandson’s Drawing from Life at the Royal Academy, Somerset House (1808); A Nincompoop or Henpecked Husband (1807); The Anatomist (1811); and Breaking up the Bluestocking Club (1815), among many others.

Next week they move on to Paris and Charles Philipon’s La Caricature with Daumier, Grandville, and other French caricaturists.

Attributed to Henry William Bunbury (1750–1811), The Long Minuet as Danced at Bath (after 1787).




The Battle of Princeton and the [later] Death of Mercer

One of the rare items pulled for the Princeton University class “Battle Lab” (HUM 350/ART 302/AMS 352) was a series of preparatory sketches by John Trumbull (1756–1843) for his painting, The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777.

The students were asked where and when did Brigadier General Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) actually die? Answer: Mercer died in the Thomas Clarke House on the eastern end of the battlefield, nine days after the battle ended.

The students examined a cannon ball found in April 1896 near Princeton Battlefield and grapeshot found November 1941 by Dr. Henry E. Hale, one yard northerly from north west corner of the Thomas Clarke House in which Gen. Mercer died 12 Jan. 1777, found under the room in which he died (Gift of Cora A. Margenem).

This framed section of The Apotheosis of George Washington uses an image taken from a 1781 print by Valentine Green after a painting by John Trumbull, and printed on fabric by an English textile designer. Here Washington is driving a chariot drawn by leopards, accompanied by the figure of America in a plumed headdress. This is one part of a larger design that originally also included The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and was used as wall paper, bed linen, and other decorative fabrics.

Students were also shown two swords, one which appears in the Washington textile and the other similar to one in Trumbull’s battle scene.

Among the seminal American documents shown was a first printing of the Declaration of Independence, printed by John Dunlap (1747-1812) and “signed by order and in behalf of the Congress, John Hancock, president. Attest. Charles Thomson, secretary.” Acquired December, 1940, William H. Scheide Library.

There are two states noted by Frederick Goff, differing in the placement of the imprint. In the earlier state, the P of Philadelphia is located directly beneath the comma following Thomson’s name. In the later state the P is located directly beneath the n of Thomson’s name. Goff notes also a proof copy (imperfect), held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, exhibiting differences in punctuation and in the insertion in line 13 of the word ‘a’ before the word ‘new.’ Cf. Goff, F.R. The John Dunlop broadside: the first printing of the Declaration of Independence, 1976. See also Walsh, M.J. “Contemporary Broadside editions of the Declaration of Independence.” Harvard Library Bulletin 3 (1949): 31-43, 1.

(left) Thomas Paine (1737-1809); (center) George Washington (1732-1799); (right) Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) from the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks Note the sunken faces of Paine and Franklin, whose false teeth had been removed before the mold was taken.


Thanks to the donation of Malcolm S. Forbes, Class of 1941, we have a collection of American Revolutionary War soldiers in the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. The group consists of no.158 of a limited set of models of the officers and men of American, British, and Hessian regiments that fought in the battles of Trenton (December 26, 1776) and Princeton (January 2-3, 1777). These 39 models were made to order for the Princeton Battlefield Area Preservation Society by Blenheim Military Models, Glamorgan, Wales.

A variety of other reliquaries, maps, and engravings were also included in the exciting class.

Bad Taxidermy and other books

The tables at this year’s NY Art Book Fair varied enormously from floor to ceiling installations inside PS1, to plastic lawn chairs in the outside tent. Many regulars were not present this year, replaced by galleries and university presses.

Highlights included a digital capture of Central Park weather represented not with numbers or text but music by Sara Bouchard; Ellsworth Kelly’s commission for the Germany’s national newspaper Die Welt, in which he replaced every news photo with a silhouette of one of his artworks; and free copies of Ann Messner’s commission for Franklin Furnace Archive Inc and The Pratt Institute Libraries called “The Free Library and Other Histories.” (link to your own copy here:

A number of events take place in the Basement Theater, including the announcement of the 2018 Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation photoBook awards shortlist, celebrating the photobook’s contribution to the evolving narrative of photography. Showcasing the best recently published books across three major categories: First PhotoBook, PhotoBook of the Year, and Photography Catalogue of the Year.